In celebration of Gene Wilder’s life, “Willie Wonka,” “Blazing Saddles” coming back to the big screen
MILWAUKEE — In celebration of the life and career of Milwaukee’s own Gene Wilder, who passed away this week, AMC Theatres is bringing two of his most popular films back to the big screen at select locations this Labor Day weekend — Saturday, September 3rd and Sunday, September 4th.
Tickets are $5 plus tax.
Meanwhile, Regal Entertainment Group plans to hold two Saturday screenings of the 1971 children’s classic, based on the Roald Dahl book, at 100 theaters, according to a representative.
Wilder’s turn as Willy Wonka arguably stands as his most memorable role, while “Blazing Saddles,” one of his many collaborations with director Mel Brooks, was among his most sidesplitting films.
Wilder, 83, died Monday, August 29th due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease.
AMC notably led a large roll out of Prince’s “Purple Rain” following the singer’s death in April. It initially screened at 87 locations and was expanded the following weekend due to demand.
There is money to be made here, sure. But it should be noted that AMC is offering its tickets for a mere $5 per film.
Plus, Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst at Comscore, says theaters have more than that to gain by re-releasing films after the death of a revered actor or celebrity.
“The local movie theater is in a sense the town square and this is a great opportunity for theaters to connect with their patrons in a very tangible way that can bring people together and create goodwill with audiences and the community,” he tells CNN via email.
Like “Purple Rain,” “Blazing Saddles” and “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” are available for digital purchase on iTunes, Amazon and other platforms. But why then are audiences still eager to head to theaters when they can watch it in the comfort of their home? Dergarabedian says a personalized experience isn’t what audiences are looking for in times of grief.
“The communal environment of the movie theater adds a huge measure of poignancy to the bittersweet feeling that we all experience after the loss of our favorite and most beloved stars and allows the audience to connect with other fans in a very public way that makes it a true celebration of the artists’ work,” he says.
A representative for AMC says decisions regarding all releases are “done in collaboration with our film programming team and the movie’s distributing studio, who work together to determine the availability of a classic movie print, as well as potential movie-going interest.”